Regional Fishing Information - Region B (The Central Maine Region)
MDIFW Regional Office
270 Lyons Road
Sidney, ME 04330-9711
Fishing Reports by Regional Fishery Biologists
All too frequently anglers ignore the Augusta area when they are considering a destination for a fishing trip. They do so at their peril! The Belgrade Region in which our state capitol is located, contains some of the finest fishing in the state. This is particularly true in the case of warm water fish species such as smallmouth and largemouth bass and that popular newcomer, the Northern pike.
Fishery Region B is bounded on the West by the Androscoggin River and on the East by the Penobscot River. The Region’s “southern” boundary is, of course, the Atlantic Ocean; its northern boundary approximates a line drawn from Livermore Falls through Skowhegan, Harmony and Dexter.
Let’s talk fish.
Maine provides some of the finest smallmouth and largemouth bass fishing on the east coast and the Belgrade Region is the best of the best! Just over 97,000 acres of lake habitat in this Region contain either smallmouths or largemouths or, as is often the case, both species. Bass fisheries in Fishery Region B range in size from 11 acre Lilly Pond to 8,239 acre Great Pond. Don’t forget about rivers and streams. All of the Region’s major rivers and many of its smaller rivers have bass fisheries.
So, within an hour’s drive of Augusta you can launch your bass boat on a concrete pad on a large lake or river, drop your car top boat or canoe into a medium-size pond or river, or wade any one of our small rivers. Bass fishing experiences run from heavily developed and very popular lakes such as Cobbosseecontee Lake in Winthrop and China Lake in Vassalboro to tiny, relatively undeveloped ponds like Moose Pond in Mt. Vernon and Jimmie Pond in Manchester.
Fishing quality varies a great deal, too. Want a chance to catch a real “hawg”? Try Annabessacook Lake in Winthrop or Webber Pond in Vassalboro. If fast action is your forte, give Branch Pond in Palermo or Lilly Pond in Sidney a try. Neither of the latter two waters produce many large bass but they sure can provide some fast fishing for small fish! Like fishing for bass in moving water? If you pass up fishing the Androscoggin River, the Region’s western border, you are missing a sure bet. In the Belgrade Region the shoreline of this river is largely undeveloped and the quality of the bass fishery is virtually unsurpassed. For an opportunity to have some truly remarkable bass fishing, access the Androscoggin at the boat launching facility off the Center Bridge Road in Turner. If you like to fish smaller rivers and enjoy fly fishing or spin fishing with light tackle, try the Nezinscot River in Turner. Although the Nezinscot is easily fished by wading, a small canoe can be helpful in fishing some of the river’s larger pools. Station yourself in one of the Nesinscot’s pools at the edge of dark, cast out a large dry fly, a small popper, or a small surface plug. Then hang on, because even experienced anglers are astonished by the commotion a 12-16 inch smallmouth can make on light tackle!
The presence of Northern pike in Maine waters was first confirmed by Department biologists in the early 1980’s. Based on size, growth rate, and apparent age we believe the species was introduced illegally into the state sometime in the 1970’s. Biologists have confirmed fishable populations of pike in 6 waters: North Pond, Great Pond, Long Pond, Ingham Pond, and Messalonskee Lake, all in the Belgrade Lakes drainage, and Sabattus Pond in the Androscoggin River drainage. All of these waters can be reached via public boat launching facilities.
The species has rapidly developed a significant following among the angling public. In fact, winter fishing for pike is, perhaps, the most common topic of conversation among central Maine anglers. Pike are voracious feeders that grow large and provide the best opportunity for capturing a large fish in the lakes and ponds of the Belgrade Region.
As fisheries biologists we do not begrudge you the fishing that this species has provided, but we do urge you to resist the temptation to transfer pike to other waters!
Other warmwater game fish species
Fisheries for most of the state’s warmwater game fish species are found in Region B. In fact, warmwater fish populations are found in virtually every pond in the Region. The most common of these game fish are white perch and yellow perch. Of the two, white perch are the most popular with Maine anglers. This species is caught summer and winter on just about every conceivable type of tackle. The popularity of white perch is due to its abundance, its willingness to bite, and its high quality as a food fish. Chain pickerel are probably the next most popular warmwater game fish in the Region. Like white perch, pickerel can be caught summer or winter and they are not difficult for the average angler to fool. Although generally between 12 and 16 inches long, pickerel can grow quite large and specimens in the 20-24 inch range are not unheard of. Despite a sweet and delicate taste, the species is quite boney and for that reason is not as highly regarded on the plate as are white perch. Some other warm water species that are caught by anglers include yellow perch, black crappie and brown bullheads.
Where can you find them? Well, just about anywhere but you might try Great Pond, China Lake, or Salmon Pond for white perch. If you want to catch pickerel, Androscoggin Lake and Annabessacook Lake are worth a shot.
Brown trout are the staple of the salmonid fishery in Region B. Virtually all the Region’s brown trout fisheries are maintained by annual stocking programs. A total of 125,199 brown trout were stocked in 64 waters in the Region in 1997. Two of the more popular brown trout waters in the Region are China Lake in China and Salmon Pond in Belgrade. Damariscotta Lake in Damariscotta, Great Pond in Belgrade, and Great Moose Pond in Hartland are newcomers to brown trout management that hold considerable promise as brown trout fisheries. All of the waters I have named are served by public boat launches and all are open to fishing, summer and winter.
The premiere brown trout water in the Region and, perhaps, in the state is the Kennebec River. The 40 mile reach of the Kennebec from Skowhegan to Augusta has gained a reputation as one of the best brown trout rivers on the East coast. Perhaps the best known fishery on the river is located just downstream of the Shawmut Dam in Benton. Much of the fishing in this stretch of the river is by wading but canoes and boats are used, as well. You can launch a boat at the public landing in the town of Fairfield. Canoes can be launched at the landing and also off the River Road just North of Goodwin Corner. Those who wade this reach access the river off the River Road on the east shore or in the village of Shawmut on the west shore. Fishing is best in the late evening and after dark. Browns in excess of 20 inches long are taken yearly.
The river reach in Waterville near the juncture of the Kennebec and the Sebasticook is another section of the Kennebec that provides a good brown trout fishery. This section is gaining in popularity. There seems to be more fishing from boats and canoes in this reach than there is below Shawmut Dam. Watercraft and canoes can be launched at the public landing on the west shore of the river in Waterville. This landing is located off Water Street, just above the “new bridge”. Most of the shore fishing is done from the east bank of the river in Ft. Halifax Park in the town of Winslow.
Several other rivers in central Maine provide brown trout fishing but perhaps one of the most intriguing is the reach of the Sheepscot River from the dam on Sheepscot Lake in Palermo to the Route 105 bridge in Whitefield. This section is unusual because it is being managed on the basis of natural reproduction. The fishery is regulated by catch-and-release rules. Fishing has been quite good in this reach in the two years of the program but it is far too early to measure its success.
Some people consider brown trout to be the most difficult salmonid for the average angler to capture. That may be so, but if fishing for this species is slow, a trip to most any brown trout water does hold the promise of the occasional trophy catch. This seems to be true for virtually all brown trout waters, even including those that have a reputation for producing small fish. Actually, the browns’ notoriety for “smarts” coupled with its potential for long life and large size are probably what holds the interest of dedicated brown trout anglers.
Anglers who seek wild brook trout in lakes and ponds are pretty much out of luck in Fishery Region B. Nevertheless, there are many opportunities to catch brookies in this part of the state. The Department stocked 53,621 brookies in 44 of the Region’s lakes and ponds in 1997. Most of the program consists of spring yearlings. Although many of these fish are taken in the spring fishery, in many cases escapement is sufficient to provide decent fall and winter fishing and even some larger holdover fish the following summer.
Region B brook trout waters with significant escapement include Adams Pond in Boothbay, Bowler Pond in Palermo, Little Pond in Damariscotta, Spectacle Pond in Vassalboro, Swan Lake in Swanville, and Tyler Pond in Manchester to name a few. Decent brookies, 12 to 16 inches, are possible in any one of these waters and a few 3 + lbs fish are taken from some of them every year. In fact, one of our ponds gives up a couple trophy brookies every year. Now, I’m not going to tell you exactly where this pond is located. Suffice to say that it is within an hours drive of the city of Augusta!
Trout fishing in Region B’s brooks and streams is not without its pleasures, either, and virtually all of these fisheries are based on wild populations. Maine anglers zealously guard the location of their favorite brook trout “hole” and so I hesitate to be very specific. However, I have listed the names of a few drainages whose tributaries and/or mainstems have fishable populations of brook trout: Martin Stream, Turner, etc.; Cathance Stream, Bowdoin, etc.; Eastern River, Pittston, etc.; Fifteen Mile Stream, Albion, etc.; West Branch of the Sebasticook River (north of Great Moose Pond), Dexter, etc.; Bartlett Stream, Montville, etc.; Passagassawaukeag River, Belfast, etc.; and Marsh Stream, Frankfort, etc.
I bet you haven’t seen the words, trophy landlocks and Kennebec County in the same sentence very often and in truth there are not a lot of salmon fishing opportunities in this neck of the woods. But hold on for a moment, if you have your fishing gear together and are preparing to strike out on a salmon fishing expedition to the Rangley lakes area or, perhaps, East Grand Lake, you should consider a little side trip. Take Route 27 out of Augusta at exit 31 on the Maine Turnpike. Head north for about 20 minutes to Long Pond in the town of Belgrade. This 2,700 acre lake provides some of the best salmon fishing in central and southern Maine, if not in the entire state. Now this is not a surprise to area anglers so you are going to have some company. If you can tolerate the competition and don’t mind relatively slow average catch rates, Long Pond provides as good an opportunity as there is for catching a trophy landlocked salmon. Salmon exceeding 5 and 6 pounds, and even 7 pounds, have been taken out of Long Pond in recent years. All of the various types of traditional salmon fishing techniques are employed at Long Pond. If you like to troll or still-fish from a boat or canoe, you’ll want to use the state-owned launching facility near Castle Island. Shore anglers can try their luck spin casting or fly fishing off the causeway at Castle Island or at the picnic facility near Great Pond dam in Belgrade Village.
Another good bet for salmon fishing in Fishery Region B is St. George Lake in Liberty. This 1,095 acre pond is located in Liberty. It has a good boat launch and a state park located on the north shore of the lake. The pond is about 30 minutes east of Augusta via Route 3. St. George’s salmon may not be quite as large as Long Pond’s salmon but good salmon anglers will find the catch rate to be satisfactory at St. George Lake and they will not be displeased by the average size of their catches.
Don’t put your salmon fishing gear away at the end of September. Long Pond and St. George Lake have extended fall fishing seasons. To be sure fall fishing for salmon is strictly catch-and-release on these two waters but if you can tolerate a little ice in your guides and don’t mind the prospect of release a 20 inch+ landlocked, you could be in for a treat. Some of the best salmon catches of the year are made in October!
Two other Region B waters that provide fishing for trophy landlocks are Swan Lake in Swanville and Wassookeag Lake in Dexter. These waters are located to the east and north of Augusta, perhaps a hours drive away. Both lakes are open to fishing winter and summer but neither has an extended fall fishing season. The reason for both fall closures is to protect spawning lake trout (togue). These two lakes have public boat launches.
Salmon stocking rates in both of these waters are low in a deliberate attempt to foster fast growth rates. The approach has been successful but at the expense of catch rates. So don’t expect fast salmon fishing at Swan or Wassokeag, however, the payoff, when it does come, may well be in the form of a 3-5 pound landlocked.
Splake are not a new fish species. They are a hybrid, a cross between brook trout and lake trout. More information on splake.
Currently, splake are being managed in 6 waters in Region B. Annual stocking programs are underway at Basin Pond in Fayette, Jamies Pond in Manchester, Messalonskee Lake in Oakland, etc., Minnehonk Lake in Mt. Vernon, Pleasant Pond in Turner, and Sheepscot Pond Palermo. Basin Pond provides the best opportunity for capturing a large fish. Splake exceeding 20 inches have been taken in Basin. The pond is accessed off the Sandy River Road in Fayette.
Early reports from the first stocking in Messalonskee Lake indicate that splake hold great promise as a possible answer to the woes of that water’s salmonid fishery. Splake from the initial stocking have grown very rapidly with some fish reaching the 4 pound mark. It remains to be seen if this fast growth can be maintained over time.
Lake trout (togue)
Just a few waters are managed for lake trout in Region B. Stocking programs provide togue fisheries in Damariscotta Lake, Echo Lake, Maranacook Lake and Lower Narrows Pond. Significant lake trout fisheries in Swan Lake and Wassookeag Lake are based entirely on natural reproduction. A residual wild togue population that provides a small fishery is found in Sheepscot Lake. All of these waters are open to fishing during the ice fishing and open water fishing seasons and all have public access.
Togue fishing is generally not fast at any of our lake trout waters, but Swan Lake and Wassookeag Lake provide the best opportunity for landing a togue in Region B. Both of these waters are known to produce a few nice-sized lakers each year.
Just two waters, the Kennebec River and Megunticook Lake, are being managed for rainbows in Region B. Both of these programs are experimental. The rainbows utilized at Megunticook Lake were purchased by the Megunticook Lake Fish and Game Association and most of those that have been stocked in the Kennebec River were purchased by the Kennebec Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited. The jury is still out on both of these programs but of the two the Kennebec River program appears to have been the most successful.
Anglers are encouraged to contact the regional biologist at (207) 547-5314 for additional information on the lakes in this region.